It was less than
a month before we were scheduled to ship out and because there was so much work to be
done, all leaves had been cancelled. Over the phone, Janet suggested, "If you would
let me drive your car, I'd come out there to see you. I could get there on a Friday and we
would have a whole weekend to ourselves."
This was the
best suggestion that I'd heard in a long time. I told the Captain about Janet coming and
not only did I get the weekend off, but he extended it to a three-day pass which meant
that I could leave on Thursday afternoon and not have to return until Tuesday morning. I'm
sure that having been in the service as long as he had, He knew the importance of a few
days with your loved one before going overseas.
arrived, I already had the weekend planned. I had reservations for two rooms at the Tahoe
Inn, along with tickets for the stage show in the club. By taking the back route through
Grass Valley, it was only an hour's drive through cool pine forests to the beautiful lake
nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Tahoe Inn
was situated astride the border and had a white line painted down the middle of the lobby
indicating which half was in California and which half was in Nevada. There were wall to
wall slot machines on the Nevada side where gambling was allowed. Our rooms were on the
California side of the hotel.
The bell boy
carried our bags to our rooms, which just happened to be next to one another and shared a
common balcony. The balcony faced out toward the mountains on the other side of the
beautiful blue waters of Lake Tahoe. What a setup, I could walk out my door, across the
balcony and in her door. As soon as he left, we were in each other's arms. It wasn't long
before her sweater and bra were on a chair and I was cuddling those beautiful breasts. The
crisp mountain air caused little goose bumps to pop on them in spite of my efforts to keep
them warm with my hands. I slid my hand between her legs, but as usual, she stopped me
with that same old line, "Not until we are married."
darling," I protested. "We love each other and are going to get married
"I want to
make love as badly as you, but I just wasn't brought up that way."
going off to the war. Suppose that I don't come back. What harm would just this one time
cause?" I'd seen that old line used many times in the movies and it always seemed to
work for them.
get married in a few minutes in Nevada, and then this would be our honeymoon. We could
make love all that we wanted to," whispered Janet.
I'll have to
admit that the temptation was awfully strong to rush across the state line and tie the
knot at one of the many wedding-while-you-wait places which lined the road, but I still
wasn't sure that was what I really wanted to do. I knew that I loved her, or at least
liked her a lot, but marriage is for a lifetime and I was far from certain what the next
six months of my lifetime would be like.
thought that we'd been through all of this before and that we would get married as soon as
I got out of the army. I realize that I've been extended three more months, but the news
says that we should all be home by Christmas. Five or six months isn't that long to
think that you love me at all," she replied as she began to cry.
I held her close
for a while, with neither of saying anything. She then dried her eyes on the pillow case,
gave me a long, wet kiss and said, "I suppose that I'm just being selfish and I
couldn't stand it if something happened to you and I had refused you this way." With
that, she stepped out of her skirt and panties and slipped between the sheets. The next
three days were sheer bliss. We made love, took showers together, watched sunsets and made
love some more. We even attended a stage show, more to recoup our strength than to see the
Janet dropped me off
at Camp Beale in time to keep from being listed AWOL on Tuesday morning and drove away
toward Texas. I was totally exhausted and my eyes were red-rimmed from lack of sleep. As
she disappeared from sight, a sudden chilling thought occurred to me, suppose that after
that weekend of lovemaking, she was pregnant. If she wasn't, it certainly was not because
she hadn't had the opportunity. I knew that I hadn't used any sort of protection and
didn't figure that she had either. At times when one is so totally involved in frantic
lovemaking, they never think about things like that. In fact, had she turned around and
came back, I would have married her on the spot out of sheer guilt.
consoled myself with the thought that we were going to get married anyway and since I had
only six months left to serve, I'd be back before the baby came. It would be one of those
hurry-up weddings and people would talk, but who cares. I spent the rest of the day deep
in thought about those three wonderful days of bliss and lovemaking.
We walked back
into the barracks after retreat formation, dumped our field packs on the floor and locked
our rifles in the rack which was standing in the middle of the room.
Bullshit! Bullshit! Nothing but Bullshit!" shouted Lester Price. "Here it is
Friday night, we just got paid and there's nothing to do except sit around here, scratch
ourselves and look at each other."
from today we will be on a ship bound for Korea," said Billy Bob. "There has got
to be something that we can celebrate."
is November third and it just happens to be my twenty-third birthday," I replied.
"You can celebrate my birthday if you like."
idea," said Arthur Arthur Arthur. "Let's go into town and have a going away
party for Foreman's birthday. We can make it a party to remember."
just the place to have the party," said Bobby Ward. "There is a restaurant over
in Yuba City where they have an all you can eat seafood buffet for three bucks a head and
half price drinks every Friday night. Must be something special for Catholics."
certainly not Catholic, but I like shrimp as well as the next person," I said.
"My Great Grandfather fought along side General Sam Houston at San Jacinto in the war
with Mexico in an effort to drive the mackerel-snappers out of Texas."
that you had ancestors who fought in the Texas Revolution?" asked Billy Bob. "I
had relatives who died at Goliad."
bad," I replied. "Everyone who fought for the Republic of Texas received land in
one form or another. Those who lived through the war got a League and a Labor while those
who died got nothing but a three by six hole in the ground."
"What is a
League and a Labor?" asked Red.
Spanish land measurements," I answered. "A League is nearly three thousand acres
and as Labor is about a hundred- eighty. How much each person actually received depended
on the honesty and ability of the surveyor who marked it off."
kinfolks still have that land?" asked Billy Bob.
no," I replied. "Swindler and shyster lawyers were out in force as soon as the
war was over and came up with nearly every acre in their names within a year. When
Great-grandpa Green Foreman died, he didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it
"How come your kin folks hated the Catholics
so much?" asked Red Ryder.
I told him. "In 1825, when my kin moved west from Kentucky, the Mexicans and
bead-counters had such a hold on Texas that no person was allowed to own land, have a
business or even get married unless he was a Catholic. Being more or less good Methodists,
a bunch of them got together and decided to kick a few asses and bring their own brand of
religion to the state. They won the war, but while they were busy whipping Santa Anna and
gaining independence for Texas, the Baptists and Philadelphia lawyers sneaked in and took
over. Now they are just about as bad as the Catholics and Mexicans ever were."
to tell a dead lawyer in the road from a dead skunk?" asked Billy Bob.
how?" replied Red.
skid marks in front of the lawyer," replied Billy Bob.
party for you is a great idea," said Red Ryder. "But just how are we going to go
about getting to town and back? Too bad that good looking girlfriend of yours isn't still
here with your car."
was, I'd have something to do which would be a lot more fun than hanging out with you
that she gave you a real birthday present while you were up at Lake Tahoe for a whole
weekend," said Billy Bob.
"Was it as
good as she looks?" asked Red.
tell," I replied as I tried to change the subject. "Wonder if we could get a
taxi to come out here after us."
that he didn't get any," said Lester.
lose," said Billy Bob. "When they got back, Foreman was so pussy-whipped that he
could hardly walk and she had a smile on her face that an undertaker couldn't
our original problem. How are we going to get to town for this party?" asked Red.
would charge us an arm and a leg to come all the way out here, but I know how we can get
to town and back," said Billy Bob. "There is a brand new Air Force bus down at
the motor pool. It came in about a week ago and is just sitting there. We'll take
your ass thrown in the stockade for stealing a bus," I told him.
problem, I won't be stealing it," said Billy Bob. "I'll just sign it out for a
trip to town and list myself as the driver. I do it all of the time."
Twenty minutes later,
Billy Bob pulled up in the shiny new blue bus. "Hop in," he yelled. "We got
wheels and we got a party to go to."
We picked up
half a dozen other members of the 1903rd who were trying to hitch rides and headed for the
road to town. As we approached the main gate, an Air Force Policeman stepped out to stop
you going to explain our using this bus to that guard?" I asked.
just watch," said Billy Bob as he pulled to a stop and handed the trip ticket to the
going to town for?" asked the guard.
bus," replied Billy Bob.
Friday. What kind of church has services on Friday night and who is in charge of the
trip?" asked the guard.
"It is some
sort of a special Catholic service and Chaplain's Assistant Foreman, here is in
charge," replied Billy Bob.
The guard handed
the trip ticket back to Billy Bob and we pulled away. "I've been called a lot of
things before, but never a Chaplain's Assistant," I said.
since this trip is to celebrate your birthday, I thought that I'd give you some of the
credit," replied Billy Bob.
We dropped off
our hitch hikers in Marysville and rattled across the bridge over the Feather River into
Yuba City, where we located the restaurant and parked the bus. Six of us, Billy Bob,
Lester Price, Arthur Arthur Arthur, Red Ryder, Bobby Ward and I headed for the door.
have a reservation?" asked the oily looking little character behind a desk at the
do, Boomer party of six," said Billy Bob. "I called for a reservation a couple
said the oily one, "I have no such party on the reservation list."
you mean, you have no such party on your list?" shouted Billy Bob. "Do you
realize who you are talking to? Just because we happen to be unlucky enough to be wearing
military uniforms doesn't mean that we aren't important people. I am Billy Bob Boomer,
winner of the best all-round cowboy award at the Cheyenne Rodeo last year. This is Red
Ryder, nationally known rattlesnake hunter and this is Arthur Arthur Arthur, a famous
artist and Perry Como's nephew. We are all here to celebrate Chaplain's Assistant
Foreman's birthday and we expect a table right now."
a minute, gentlemen," said the head waiter. "I'll see what I can do."
A few minutes
later, he returned, "I'm sorry for the error in your reservations. The owner told me
that there would be a special party of six tonight, but he failed to give me the name.
Please follow me, gentlemen."
there," whispered Billy Bob. "You can cover up just about anything if you shovel
on enough bullshit."
We were shown
past the long buffet table, piled high with foods from various oceans. There were bowls of
boiled shrimp, plates of oysters, piles of crab legs and platters of fish of all kinds. A
dozen or more kinds of salads filled one end of the table while breads and desserts
occupied the other.
We were seated
at a table which was far nicer than the others in the room. China plates with gold edges
were flanked by three forks, three spoons and two knives. Each place was set with a wine
glass, two goblets and linen napkins folded in the shape of little sailboats.
A waiter, who
was wearing a plastic bow tie and a vest which was about two sizes too small, came to the
table and told us with a strong French accent, "Gentlemen, my name is André and I
will be your waiter tonight." He produced a match with a stick at least a foot long
and lit several candles which stood in a brass candlestick in the middle of the table.
that this was one of those helpy-selfy deals where we could eat all that we could hold for
one price," said Red Ryder.
sir, this is our Friday night seafood buffet, but the management assigned me to this table
as your personal waiter," replied André. "May I suggest a very nice 1939
vintage wine which was bottled under a private label and the owner keeps just for his
"Pour us a
slug of it," said Billy Bob. "If the stuff is good enough for the guy who owns
this place, then it is bound to be good enough for us. I always liked private stock,
whether it was booze, horses or women."
with two very dusty bottles of wine, which he carried as if they might explode at any
moment. He carefully removed the cork from one bottle and poured a small amount into a
glass and handed it to Billy Bob.
all that I get?" asked Billy Bob, looking at the swallow of wine in the bottom of the
"That is a
sample of the wine to see if it meets with your approval, Sir," replied André.
Billy Bob tossed
down the wine in a single gulp, thought a minute and replied, "It ain't Lone Star
Beer, but I suppose that if it's the best you got, it will have to do."
wine for each of us and said, "May I prepare your salads?"
that is your job, Andy, then go right ahead and whip up salads for us."
is André," corrected the waiter.
I certainly don't want to be the one who knocks you out of work," replied Billy Bob.
We finished our
salads and André escorted us to the buffet table where we piled plates high with food.
"Careful of those raw oysters," said Billy Bob. "They say that at least
eight out of ten of them work and we might wake up so horny that we would be after
anything that moves."
When we returned
to the table, Lester Price raised his glass and gave a toast,
Who woke up one
morning with a dandy.
Called for his
aide to send him a maid,
A sheep, a goat
or anything handy."
We made countless
trips to the buffet table while André opened a dozen or more dusty bottles of the 1939
vintage wine. He seemed to get a certain look of glee each time that a cork popped. Wine
is like fog which will sneak slowly up on a person without their ever realizing. By this
time, we were basking in the warm glow of fermented grapes and feeling no pain.
the house rules about how many times we can go back for more food?" asked Red.
know, probably like down at the pool hall; one foot on the floor and one hour time
limit," replied Billy Bob.
up there after more shrimp so many times that I am getting ashamed of myself," said
Arthur Arthur Arthur. "People are beginning to stare at me, so I think that I'll
crawl there this time so no one will notice."
of the matter is that he's so drunk that he can't walk," said Bobby Ward.
Arthur slid from his chair and, holding his plate in his teeth, crawled across the floor
and under the buffet table. His hand crept from beneath the tablecloth and began to grope
around for the elusive shrimp.
instantly and tried to coax Arthur Arthur Arthur from his hiding place beneath the table
while we roared with laughter. "Please Sir, you must come out from under there."
back so many times that people are looking at me," said Arthur Arthur Arthur. "I
wanted to do it this way so no one would notice."
will come out from under the table, I will get you as many shrimp as you wish," said
André, with a noticeable loss of his affected French accent.
We became aware
of a considerable commotion which was taking place at the door. Three couples were there
and evidently rather unhappy with the situation. Two of the men were fat, fifty and bald
while the other was a tall, lanky type who was wearing a Boss of the Plains Stetson and a
fancy embroidered western suit which flashed with hundreds of sequins. They had three
twenty year old fluffs with them, each wearing a fur coat and sun glasses. We seemed to
have become the center of attention as most of them were pointing in our direction.
The head waiter
came to our table and said, "Gentlemen, there seems to have been a mistake and you
will have to leave this table immediately."
we give our table to those three guys and their chippies?" asked Billy Bob.
this table was reserved for them and I gave it to you by mistake," replied the head
waiter. "I must insist that you leave immediately, or I will be forced to call the
Billy Bob," I said. "We've been thrown out of nicer places than this before.
They can just take the table and go cram it. If they throw us out, then we don't have to
pay the check." With that, we got up and headed for the door.
check," shouted André, who had completely lost his French accent in all the
and your check," shouted Billy Bob as we charged out the door. "If you want to
throw us out and give those bastards our table, then give them the check too."
We stumbled onto
the bus and Billy Bob managed to get the engine running. André was waving the check in
the air and trying to get the door of the bus open. "Youse worthless bastards owe me
over two hundred bucks!" he shouted in his newly acquired accent, which somehow
reminded us of Sergeant Schultz.
hundred bucks!" shouted Red Ryder as we pulled out of the parking lot with André
still in hot pursuit. "That must have been some awfully expensive wine, but I say
that nothing is too good for Foreman on his birthday. Happy birthday, you worthless damn
We picked up
several other soldiers who were hitching a ride back to the base and when Billy Bob pulled
to a stop at the gate, the guard asked, "How did the church services go?"
great," replied Billy Bob. "Chaplain's Assistant Foreman must have saved a
hundred lost souls.
him," replied the guard. "By the way, did you happen to see six drunk soldiers
while you were in town? We got a call from a restaurant in Yuba City that they ran out on
a two hundred dollar check."
"It is just
terrible that there are men who would do such a thing and bring disgrace to all of us who
so proudly wear the uniform of the United States," I replied. "As Chaplain's
Assistant, I feel that it is my duty to lead us in silent prayer for these wayward men.
Will everyone please lower their heads and offer a silent prayer for these lost
lowered his head with us, and after several seconds, I said, "Amen, and bless them
for they knew what they did."
The guard handed
the trip ticket back to Billy Bob and we drove away. "I hope to hell that this bus is
well grounded," said Red Ryder. "Lightning is bound to strike any second